WINDHOEK - As the closing date for the fishing rights application is nearing, the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources has dispatched ballot boxes to all 14 regions where such application forms will be submitted and sealed in order to ensure transparency.
Last month, Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister Bernard Esau announced the deadline for applying for fishing rights had been extended from the initial deadline of 31 July to August 31.
Esau said the deadline extension for rights applications was because of concerns raised by the public during the national consultation workshops held across the country.
According to the statement, the public expressed concern over the requirement that only proprietary limited companies (Pty) (Ltd) would be considered and not close corporations (CC), as was the practice in the past.
Other concerns raised include the tightness of the end of July deadline, and the fact that some fishing quotas were to expire in 2020.
In the draft amendment of the deadline and requirements, Esau noted prospective beneficiaries could now submit applications until 31 August.
Esau also said people with fishing rights expiring in 2020 “are not eligible to apply for rights in terms of this notice.”
In an interview with New Era, fisheries Director for Policy, Planning and Economics Anna Erastus said the application process is well on course and they have thus far dispatched ballot boxes to the regions for applicants to submit before the boxes are sealed.
She could not give the exact figure in terms of fishing rights applications received so far.
Erastus said in terms of information sharing, applicants understand the process and are happy with the new gazette that people are allowed to apply through a CC.
“People are very happy. To date we have not really received a lot of complaints after the new gazette. It is very important to understand that this whole process is different as that of 2010. People should not have perceptions. They must just apply,” she said.
She said some of the differences are that this time around they have dispatched ballot boxes to various regions for applications.
According to her, this is done because applicants are not comfortable, as they want to ensure the boxes are sealed for transparency.
In this way, Erastus noted this process of dispatching ballot boxes has also cut costs for people who are far from head office in Windhoek.
In particular, she said ballot boxes will also serve the process well since the ministry does not have regional offices in some areas such as Omusati.
In this regard, the ballot boxes for Omusati will be delivered through Oshana and see how it will be taken to the region.
She appealed to the public to start handing in their application forms to avoid last minute rush.
Erastus revealed that experiences saw people overnighting at the fisheries head office because they failed to submit on time.
In terms of assisting applicants, she said although they are challenged with manpower, they are doing their best to help explain to those in need in terms of information and requirements for fighting rights applications.